I used to dream that socialism was a good idea.
There, I said it. Taking full advantage of the power of confession, as a tonic for the soul, I will humbly confess that I used to believe the exact opposite of much of the belief system that I now hold faith in.
I used to watch the CBC and agreed with them when they patiently explained how the United States was inferior to Canada. I read Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and fully accepted their description of "sharing" resources as a sensible idea. I eagerly searched for new issues of The Nation and Z magazine on the newsstands (hard to find in those days), and considered myself clever for studying them cover to cover.
Then one day I woke up.
No one event shattered the dream; rather it was a continuous rainfall of small incidents, drip by incessant drip, day after day, that I had to wade through in order to keep my socialist dream afloat, until the evidence of my experience outweighed wishful thinking and I had to face facts. I had been dreadfully wrong. I could no longer deny reality, and awoke from the socialist dream.
Thank God I woke up.
It required so much effort to maintain the socialist dream that it frequently drained whatever delight it was supposed to engender. You’d think that living a dream would make you happier; instead it crushes you into grief and despair, as living any lie will, eventually. The undeniable injustices of the human experience grind you down, and the inability of your dream to solve the problem only accelerates the descent.
You wonder why the socialist formula is not working, why it never seems to work as advertised. Why do people flee **from** leftist states? Why do they flee **towards** states with free market economies? Why do socialist states need gates to keep their people in, and free states need gates to keep people out? Something doesn’t add up, and two choices present themselves: socialism isn’t being tried enough, and is therefore not attractive enough yet… or it doesn’t work at all, and therefore can hold no attraction.
Testing to see which choice is the truth, involves an intellectual honesty and moral clarity that can shake our deepest-held beliefs, needing us to trust in ourselves, that we are more interested in truth than in our own well-being. How many are capable of that degree of trust?
I try and look back at that sad tiger trap I had fallen into, and wonder how I first fell in. As I meet others, today, still down in the pit, refusing to crawl out, it seems a miracle that any of us ever escape the cold embrace that made socialism so attractive in the first place. Who has that kind of courage?
For it takes faith to overcome the dream.
The allure socialism had for me was in direct proportion to my lack of faith in myself, and my potential ability to overcome adversity.
If I was too lazy to keep working through a problem in my life, then how to imagine that others could be capable of the labor required for success in their lives? Best to solve their problems for them, and treat success as a gift to be handed over on a silver platter (which then keeps it from being success in the first place).
Do the recipients of charity ever act charitably in return? If we ourselves cannot summon the discipline to be charitable, then no wonder we would favor wealth redistribution, as an enforced charity (which then stops being charity at all).
Do those who insist on never placing themselves in debt, whether as students or entrepreneurs, abhor that debt in direct proportion to their lack of self-confidence in ever getting themselves out of debt? That’s how I was, when I towed the socialist line. Then I fell heavily in debt, and got myself out of it. I was in bad straights, and progressed. I did it... so why not others?
Change for the better is possible. It has to be imagined before it can be brought about, yet it is hard to imagine without first being experienced. It seems a hard circular chain to break… so one must have faith.
The act of faith is the first act, to break that chain, to climb out of the hole, to muscle oneself awake from the socialist dream.
Some dreamers never waken… pity them, but don’t vote for them.